January 01, 2001

When Abel Lopez learned about Pull-A-Part from his dad in 2004, he didn’t realize he’d soon help to set safe and efficient recycling, dismantling and crushing processes for the an entire team.

“I used to do construction work,” Lopez said. “When I started at Pull-A-Part, I thought it would just be manual labor, just like construction. The biggest surprise I had was that there was room to grow and learn new things — something I didn’t see in the construction industry.”

Lopez’s father worked at Pull-A-Part of Montgomery, and soon, Abel found himself following in his dad’s bootsteps. It’s been 13 years since he joined Pull-A-Part, and as Montgomery’s principal heavy equipment operator, he notes that safety is of primary importance.

“My advice to a new employee in production is to listen to your supervisor,” Lopez said. “Follow all safety rules and standard operating procedures, and be productive.”

After Pull-A-Part customers pull the most popular salvage parts off of a vehicle — headlamps, seats, interior trim, body panels, the engine and other valuable parts from bumper-to-bumper — it’s picked up via a forklift and taken to Lopez’s arena: Production. Behind the corrugated gates, largely hidden out of view from retail customers, vehicles are prepared for recycling by production staff who harvest the car’s wiring and rare metals before it’s sent to the crusher. It’s the stuff of television shows — but for Lopez and his team in Production, it’s an everyday adventure that has real benefits for the end customer.

“By crushing old cars in a timely manner, we can have new cars added to inventory faster,” Lopez said. “This way, more parts are available to more customers.”

So what does a professional car crusher do in his spare time? Maintain his vehicles, of course.

“I like to work on cars myself, so I am always doing something to my cars,” Lopez said. “My favorite car I’ve ever owned was a Toyota 4Runner — they’re very reliable.”